★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A WAY-MAKER ★

In yesterday’s post  ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNIPRESENT, we talked about the third “OMNI” that God is known.  Unlike Omnipotent (all-powerful) and Omniscient (all-knowing), we discussed how Omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time) is a little more challenging to grasp for our finite minds BUT regardless of our comprehension we should be comforted nonetheless because the God of the Universe is EVERYWHERE!  Today we are going to see that..

Like the rest of the world, as a result of the Coronavirus our family has been attending church “virtually” for the past 5 weeks now.  This past Sunday we worshiped to “Way Maker,” (https://youtu.be/iJCV_2H9xD0) and though we have been singing that song for months now, the truths that are proclaimed speak directly into the current pandemic.  In case you have been living under a rock here is the chorus to give you a sample:

Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

That is WHO the God of heaven and earth is!  HE IS a Way maker — Miracle worker — Promise keeper — and a Light in the darkness!  We have all had to find “our new normal” whether that be attending classes online, or homeschooling our children or working from home or perhaps finding ourselves unemployed as a result of the “world-wide” shut down!  Today I wanted to share these promises declared in this anthem song (which are also all through scripture) as I think we need to be reminded in this time of fear and uncertainty that God CAN and WILL make a WAY no matter how bleak the current circumstance.  It’s funny I first heard the song performed by Leland, but when I went to iTunes yesterday it seems that every major Christian artist has a version (over 30 covers!)  There is a part in the worship experience where you can just feel the Holy Spirit take over and pour out His love.  The lyrics are:

I have had this song on repeat in my playlist!  It is like God is trying to refresh and remind me that regardless of what I may think, see or feel, the reality is…the OMNIPRESENCE of God IS THE TRUTH and REALITY that I MUST STAND ON.  Nothing is impossible for God.  He can make water come from a rock, (not once but twice — See Exodus 17:5-7 and Numbers 20:6-11), He can bring dry bones come back to life, (See Ezekiel 17:1-14), and resurrect what was dead and bring hope to a hopeless situation, (See Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1–44, John 20:1-23).

Before His death, Jesus said in John 14:6b (NLT):

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

As a result of Jesus death and resurrection has opened unlimited access to the Way-Maker of heaven.  When we put our trust in Jesus, EVERYTHING CHANGES!

Change.  Right now we ALL want change?  We want things as they we B.C. — BEFORE COVID-19.  What are you looking forward to getting back to?  School?  Date nights?  Maybe getting back to work?  I was watching the news the other day about protests that are breaking out all over the country about the shelter-in-place orders and was shocked at this sign:

Isn’t that crazy?  I just gave my youngest daughter the clippers with a No. 4 clip and I’m good for another month!  Hahaha!

I was just watching the sermon “Looking Forward to Normal” this morning and Steven Furtick made the point to not be excited to “get back to normal” but rather we should “look forward to normal.”  Let this time change us, because:

“Faith looks forward.”

You know what my constant prayer through this pandemic, God may you get the glory for the end of this pandemic and may there be revival throughout the whole world.  That God would fulfill the promise of Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)…

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

God WANTS to DO ABOVE and BEYOND ANYTHING we can imagine in whatever our “new normal” is.  I believe if we would stop scrolling on the Twitter feed of the latest death rate and instead start feeding on the WORD of God, our ANXIETY level would DECREASE and our faith and our PEACE would INCREASE!

I will close Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) speaks of the Lord’s promise of victory in which the prophet proclaimed:

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I truly believe that God wants to something new with each of us during this time of unprecedented stillness and inactivity.  The question is, when things “get back to normal,” will you be the same or will you have been changed as a result of TRUSTING God in these dark times?

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

 

Here is another anthem song called “RATTLE!” to add to your playlist by Elevation Worship based on Ezekiel 37:1-14.

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – True Shalom ★

This week is quite significant for many reasons.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday that is the official kick-off to “Holy Week.”  Which you may recall was when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Growing up I always liked this weekend because Palm branches would be handed out at church which we then made a cross with it to keep around the house.  At the time I did not understand the significance of the tradition nor how important Holy Week is.  Friday is of course the day when we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for our sins when He was nailed to the cross.  And smack dab in the middle of the week between Jesus entering Jerusalem and subsequent death on a Roman cross, is the Jewish celebration of Passover is on Wednesday which is the remembrance of when the Israelite people were spared when the angel of death “passed over” their homes in Egypt because they put the blood of a scarified lamb over the doorway.  Besides the religious significance, this week according to the Surgeon General “is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment.”  As I turned on the TV this morning, news report after news report warns that the USA is facing the worst week of the Covid-19 outbreak.  As we have been “social distancing,” (which I have to say I cannot stand hearing that phrase, I prefer “physical distancing” but I digress), the most repeated thing that I have asked, or have been asked, is “how are doing in quarantine?”  So, I will tell you, I am doing good.  Like so many, it has been (3) weeks now that we have self-quarantined.  In these difficult and confusing times, it’s been comforting to be with my wife and (2) daughters, facing this together.  Each of us have been “finding our new normal.”  I have commandeered the dining room as my work space, while our daughters have each found their own place to attend classes online.  One blessing of being quarantined with my family is enjoying having lunch together and then 3 pm coffee time with my wife.  I think the most interesting change is that I am now the one hitting Costco, Kroger or Walmart just trying to find the essentials.  As I got ready yesterday and folded up my bandanna with some of my wife’s hair ties to create a makeshift mask, I felt a little like this guy…

Hahaha!  And I am happy to report that yesterday I hit “pay dirt!”

The media has created such a frenzy with non-stop coverage of empty shelves, the number of infected and sadly the death toll.  There is without a doubt a reason to be concerned and take precautions, but we need to not allow our lives to be driven by fear!  I was reading this YouVersion Easter reading plan called ‘Risen’ by Ray Johnston, and he had this great insight:

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop.”

Fear will cause us to act irrationally like hording toilet paper and can open the door to the enemy’s attack.  After I came home yesterday from Winco with my precious paper products, mind you I have not had paper towels in 3 weeks…talk about first world problems…I then gathered with my family to stream the church service.  And the ironic part, the sermon was called “Overcoming Fear” by Jimmy Evans.  This timely message was all about God wanting us to have peace, not fear!  He shared that:

“Fear is a prophet spirit from hell, sent to give us a negative report about the future that will upset us and cause us to make a fear-based decision that God will not honor.” 

That is so, so powerful!  How many fear-based decisions are being made right now?  The enemy loves to use fear as a weapon against us but 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) tells us:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Jimmy Evans also said that:

“God never uses fear!  He uses peace!” 

That got me thinking about the Jewish celebration of Passover this week and the word that they use for peace… “Shalom,” which as you may have guessed, is the inspiration of this post.  I asked a friend of mine who has a lot of knowledge about Judaism what is a trusted definition of the word Shalom and he said:

The basic definition is peace for sure.  But that peace, is a peace that goes beyond just peace with others, but peace with self, circumstances, emotions, etc.  More like the peace of a new born babe in his/her mother’s arms.  Like that.  Where things may be happening but finding that security in God.” 

What a powerful image right?  We can find peace in God like a baby has in its mother’s arms.

This past February, my wife and I went to the XO Marriage Conference and heard Dave and Ashley Willis talk about “Finding Peace in Marriage Conflicts.”  They shared this great definition for Shalom:

“Breaking the authority established by chaos.” 

That is what I believe many of us need to do!  We need to break the authority that we have allowed chaos to have over our lives.  Satan is the author of confusion and it is only when we take captive our thoughts that we can have True Shalom.  1 Corinthians 14:33a (NLT) reminds us…

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (“of Shalom” – see the Tree of Life Translation).

I just reading John chapter 14 in which Jesus comforted His Disciples about the end times.  He book-ended the chapter with an offer of peace.  John 14:1 (NLT) start off:

““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”” 

I love the comfort found in John 14:1.  This image reminded me of my many times in detention back in High School where the Dean had me write over and over “I will not _____ .” (Fill in the blank with whatever my offense was that day).  Hahaha!  I hated this punishment, but you know there is something about repetition that helps us learn the lesson.  The same is true for our Life…Jesus gave us the key to ANY situation…“Trust in God, and trust also in [Him].”  There is no better cure for anxiety than praying to the ONE who can comfort, heal and provide for us!

He meant this so much that at the end of the chapter, Jesus made this statement:

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27

So the question is, do you want to trust in the nightly news or the ONE who created you?  The ONE who is your true provider!  Jesus will provide much more than what your physical needs are, He with give you “peace of mind and heart!”  All you need to do is ask Him for it today.

Pray…Stay Safe in Quarantine…and of course wash your hands!

 

★★ Want to dig deeper? ★★ 

Here are a couple of articles about the Meaning of Shalom:

Check out this sermon called I’m Still Scared by Steven Furtick.

Here are additional posts on fear, doubt, and anxiety that I wrote over the past (6) years if you are interested in reading more on this topic…

  1. ★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

  2. ★ Thought for the Day – Crippled By Doubt ★

  3. ★ Thought for the Day – got fear? ★

  4. ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

  5. ★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

  6. ★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Be Weak Like Samson – Part 1 ★

So what did you think of the movie Samson that was released on last month ago today?  Unfortunately, I did not get to see it in time before it left the theaters.  It is so sad how fast a faith-based movie debuts and then is pulled from the big screen.  Guess I will have to catch it on Redbox.  I was really looking forward to it too because I have been doing a lot of study recently on the well-known Bible character.  In our Lifegroup we covered the life of this Samson who very well could be considered a superhero which from the previews of the movie, the film makers sure played up the superhuman strength.  In the book of Judges, Chapters 13 through 16 tells the story of what is known about Samson who has been featured in many a Sunday School Lesson and Children’s Book.  But let me ask you, what do you know about this epic Old Testament Hero?  For me, I thought I knew about Samson, but after studying these (4) short chapters I was shocked to see that there was much more to him.  Sure everyone knows about the supernatural strength, the long hair, and the overactive libido that led to the haircut, capture and death, but what else do you know?

As I studied, I learned that Samson was called for a very special purpose…to deliver the nation of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines, an enemy that they continually battled.  He was also a Judge over the Nation of Israel for (20) years.  Now if you are wondering what that means, Judges 2:18 (NLT) defines the role:

“Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, He was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime.  For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.”

In addition to that, as I read Judges 13:3-5 I found out that there was an angelic proclamation of Samson’s birth.  That was a surprise to me.  I did not recall that so I did some research and found that Samson was (1) of only (6) people to have an angel announce their birth.  The others were:

  • Ishmael, whose parents were Hagar and Abraham – See Genesis 16:11
  • Isaac, whose parents were Abraham and Sarah – See Genesis 17:19
  • Solomon, whose parents were David and Bathsheba – See 1 Chronicles 22:6-9
  • John the Baptist, whose parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth – See Luke 1:13-15
  • And of course Jesus, whose parents were Mary and Joseph – See Luke 1:30-33

In Samson’s case, the Angel proclaimed to Manoah and his wife that their son was destined to be a Nazarite.  Now if you are not familiar with what that is…A Nazarite is defined in Numbers 6:1-21, in which a person vows for a certain length of time that they will:

  • Avoid contact with the dead.
  • Abstain from wine and strong drink.
  • Refrain from cutting their hair.

The difference in Samson’s case was that this vow would be for a lifetime.  And so he made it onto another list.  In the Bible there are only (3) people mentioned that took the Nazarite vow for life:

Fun fact, the only one of these men actually called a “Nazarite” was Samson.  So why am I sharing all of this?  Because NO ONE IN ALL of the Bible had SO MUCH STACKED IN HIS FAVOR and yet when you read WHAT Samson did and WHY he did it, all I can say is WHAT WASTED POTENTIAL!  I asked the people in my Lifegroup to come up with some Life Lessons about the hero who is so widely taught about on Sunday mornings. Overwhelmingly, no one could come up with any positive actions that Samson did.  So here are some thoughts I had of what I have learned of “what not to do” from the Life of Samson.

Lessons from the Life of Samson:

  1. Don’t break your vows/promises to God. Samson continually gave into his emotions of selfishness, anger and lust.  And ultimately broke all (3) of the Nazarite vows – he ate honey out of a dead lion’s carcass (see Judges 14:8-9), he threw a feast which customarily included alcohol (see Judges 14:10), and told the secret to his strength which lead to the history making haircut (see Judges 16:17-19).  What Samson desired ultimately was more important than the destiny that God blessed him with!  
  1. Guard your eyes and heart from desiring what it is not good or safe for you. Samson chased after every detestable thing which had disastrous results.  Samson allowed his selfishness, anger and lust to run amuck that caused an enormous amount of suffering for those closest to him, and led to his death.
  1. Don’t include others in your sin. Samson involved his mother and father in his sin of eating the honey from the dead carcass of the lion he killed unbeknownst to them.  If we call ourselves a child of God or a Christian or a Christ Follower, we must be very careful that we don’t cause others to sin as a result of example or in Samson’s case through deception. And that leads to life lesson #4…
  1. Listen to your parents/Godly counsel. Samson could be the poster child for not being “unequally yoked.”  (See 2 Corinthians 6:14-16).  In Judges 14:2 (ESV) we first see Samson’s inability to control himself…

“Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah.  Now get her for me as my wife.””

And that refusal to submit to authority set the tone for how he would live his life!  Samson wanted what he wanted and chased after it regardless of the consequences.  His parents objected to the wedding but he forward with the planning anyway.  And the sad part, in the end he did not even get the woman because of Samson’s anger over the betrayal of her giving away the answer to his riddle.  See Judges 14:10-20 which leads us to our next life lesson… 

  1. Guard your anger. Samson allowed his rage to dominate his life and in the end, he lost everything.  Instead of caring for God’s people and fighting for Israel, Samson time and time again allowed his anger to rule his emotions resulting in much pain.

As part of the engagement, Samson threw a week-long party leading up to the wedding. During the feasting, Samson lost a bet over a riddle and ended up killing (30) innocent Philistines to settle then wager.  He went back home to mommy and daddy and so his finance was given away in marriage to Samson’s best man.

When Samson found this out, he tied up (300) foxes and set their tails on fire and burned up all the grain fields of the Philistines. But that overreaction resulted his ex-fiancé and her father being burned alive and eventually severe consequences on the Nation of Israel.

  1. As you grow in the Lord, stay humble and watch out for the sin of pride creeping in. Samson completely lost sight of his purpose as he believed more in himself than in the God who gave him the great calling to be Israel’s deliver!    Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (ESV) warns…

“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

He trusted on his own strength to solve all problems and thus took God for granted which is ironic because it was God who gave Samson the supernatural strength to do everything he did. 

  1. Keep an attitude of gratitude. In Judges 15:16-17 Samson boasted and took credit initially for killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.  Then in Judges 15:18 (NLT) it says:

“Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, ‘You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant.  Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?’” 

His response was more like a spoiled brat than a great mighty man of valor.

  1. If you play with fire you’re going to get burned! (See Proverbs 6:23-29).  Samson consistently made the wrong choice when it came to the women he got involved with. 

We already discussed the Philistine woman at Timnah and the consequences that ensued.    

When Samson was with the prostitute in Judges 16:1, it says in verse 2 that the Gazites:

“surrounded the place and set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city.”

Then of course there is Delilah. Which leads us to the last life lesson…

  1. Lust is not Love. Samson attached himself to the wrong people.  In Judges chapter 16 it talks about how Samson “feel in love” with Delilah and how she kept trying to determine the source of Samson’s strength because the Philistines promised to pay here 1,100 pieces of silver to betray him!  Judges 16:18-19 (NLT) recalls…

“Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him.”

Steven Furtick made this powerful point about how Samson traded his purpose for passionate encounters with the very enemy he was supposed to be delivering His people from…

“Samson took his passion and spent it on his preference instead of applying it to his purpose.  So instead of delivering his people from the Philistines, he reacted out of rage and married the Philistines.  Are you stable in your emotions?”

I love that question…”Are you stable in your emotions?”  Samson clearly wasn’t as he played with fire sleeping with the enemy, fully knowing that Delilah was going to betray him and yet he gave away the secret to his strength!

  1. God can use your disobedience for good. Charles Stanley had this great life lesson on Judges 14:4…
“Samson’s desire for a Philistine wife clearly transgressed God’s law (See Deuteronomy 7:3-4), yet God used even his disobedience for the good of His people.  Note, however that Samson himself never received a blessing for his rebellious choice and regretted it (See also Judges 14:20).”

And to add to Charles Stanley point, at the end of Samson’s life that, Judges 16:28-30 (ESV) tells us:

“Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.”

Now every Sunday School class heralds the epic death of Samson but look at the underlined words.  Samson did not say strengthen men to strike a heavy blow on the enemy of your people, he said strengthen that “I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”  But nonetheless God used Samson’s “disobedience for the good of His people!”

As I complied this list, and saw how Samson threw away a great legacy to indulge his carnal desires and unleash revenge; the one word to that came to mind to describe Samson was not the typical Sunday School adjective like cunning, unique or strong…But rather UNSTABLE!  He was controlled by his flesh and as a result many people were hurt by his childish and selfish decisions.  That was the muse for this Thought, the reality that Samson was not strong at all, but weak!  Instead of walking with God, he followed his flesh!  I will close with this great summation of Samson’s life in a sentence…

“Samson was an incredibly strong man, with a dangerously weak will.”  Craig Groeschel

OUCH!  That hurts but is also so true!  I want to leave you with this question to ruminate over…”

 

Click Here for Part 2 that unpacks how to be a stable follower of Christ!

 

For further study, check out this blog post called:

★ Act Like Men – “The Sampson Syndrome” ★

 

Here is a great sermon on Samson called “Brace Yourself” by Steven Furtick

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

96 - Daily Dependence - Follow Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life 3About a year ago we posted ★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★, in which we looked at how one conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus changed his life and how if we will be open to listening to the call of God, we could be used to change the life of others.  I shared in ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ about how I had a fantastic conversation with a man in the next seat on the flight home from Indiana which has continued with us texting back and forth about God and matters of faith.  I have also been trading emails with a member of my project team about life.  We went from discussing the Presidential Election to Trump’s Wall to handle immigration to what he thought about God which opened the door to the subject of today’s post.  I would like to use his 6 questions to delve into the hot-button topic of “How God could send someone to Hell that never heard the gospel?”  At the end of this post I will give you two messages from Pastors that I greatly respect and have sat under the teaching of for years (one in person and one through Podcast.)  But I digress…I will paste my answer to each question in order of how he asked them…

1.  Why is there not a Gospel of Jesus?  So much was written by flawed men. 

Though man is certainly flawed, the Bible was written by the direction of God.  Part of my faith is that the Bible is the inherent Word of God.  The first thing to understand is that though Jesus’ name is not on the top of any book, every word in the bible is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” and was intended to be a road map or instruction manual for how to live.

2.  How can Christianity which is all about Christ claim that all people who don’t accept Jesus go to hell and suffer for all eternity?

Regardless of the racial, social or economic background, every single person has been told of the existence of God…By God Himself.  God has placed a God-shaped hole in everyone one of us.  Every person has questioned where they came from, how they came about and ultimately what will happen after we breathe our last breath.  The question is, do you look up or do you rebel against the truth?  Also any sentient being cannot look at the magnificence of a sunrise, or the gentle breeze across halcyon wheat fields or the giggle of a child’s laughter and not wonder if there is not something greater than themselves.  Again the question is, do you open your mind up to the possibility or repress the stirring?  Pastor Robert Morris made statement:

“The Bible says that since the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself to every person both internally and externally.  Every person is born with a conscience, given to them by God, that gives them guidance about right and wrong.  Scripture says that creation itself is proof of His existence, and promises that every person who makes an effort to seek God will find Him.  Therefore, no one has an excuse.  We can see God if we’ll only look.”

Ultimately you have to understand that

“There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

Because God is just and holy many people see these 2 attributes as negatives, but there has to be consequences for Sin.  But what many people struggle is that:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

3.  Could you believe that a person like the Dali Lama who is kind and completely about peace in the world would go to Hell?

This question is a difficult one to answer.  I cannot truly answer that question because God is the who judges and will decide who is destined to go to Hell or not.  Jesus did say in John 14:6 (NLT),

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father [God] except through me.

The question though is from the presupposition that there are actually kind and good people.  Romans 3:10-12 (NLT) says,

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless.  No one does good, not a single one.”” 

And Romans 3:23 (NLT) says:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Sin is very real and though people may strive to be kind and peaceful; there is no one who is perfect.  See Romans 3:24-26 and Romans 5:12-17.  To make matters worse, 2 Corinthians 4:4 which talks about how “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.”  It is interesting to note that people were never intended to go to Hell.  God created Man to have a relationship with Him and set Him in the Garden of Eden which was paradise on earth.  Robert Morris made this point:

“Hell was created for Satan and his angels, (see Matthew 25:41) when they inexcusably and rebelliously rejected God without cause.  God sent His Son so that no one else would ever have to go there.  God gave every person a free will.  We can choose to love Him or to reject Him.  The people in heaven are those who have chosen Him.  Many others reject Him, in spite of His unlimited goodness.  Our eternal destiny is not His choice, but ours.  Hell wasn’t created for people, but according to Isaiah 5:14, it was enlarged because people inexcusably reject God.  So, the question is, ‘How could anyone reject a loving God?’”

Isn’t that a fascinating thought?  Instead of viewing it from the perspective that God is sending people to Hell, the truth is that People are choosing to go to Hell because of their blatant rejection of the free gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross!  You can read more on this in the post ★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★.

4.  How do I have faith when Christianity and all other religions say we go to hell if we don’t believe?  Christianity is all about Jesus and Christianity says we go to hell when for many life is stacked against them even to the point they may not have even heard of him?

In addition to what I stated above, in a message that I just heard, Steven Furtick made this profound faith…

“The Opposite of Faith is not doubt.  The Opposite of Faith is certainty.

Faith is meant to be more than a formality.

Faith was meant to be more than a feeling.

Faith was meant to be more than a formula.

In fact if you can reduce it to a formula and make sense out of it, it ain’t faith.”

It’s normal to have doubts and to question but in the end, there will be some things we just will never know this side of heaven.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says,

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

God is the only one who knows whose heart belongs to Him and whose has rebelled.

5.  Is the simple answer that parts of the bible while true there maybe parts that are not because they were not written by Christ?

As I mentioned above, The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the entire Bible is true.  Charles Stanley made this statement.

“The truth of God’s Word applies to all men and women in every culture, in every age, in every walk of life…Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; the Bible enlightens each individual to recognize personal sin, the need for salvation, and the best possible life course.”

For me the Bible is my anchor of my life.  I believe if people truly want to grow in their faith and live a victorious in life than dusting off the Bible on the nightstand and opening it up is a necessity!  In an older post called ★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★, I wrote about the importance of knowing the whole Bible because of its relevance to our life.  Check it out; it looks through the lens of the Ten Commandments.

6.  What do you think is the greatest sin with respect to sins against others? 

There are definitely sins that I believe are worse than others, rape, murder, child abuse to name a few but the Bible has something very different to say.  In asking this question I asked if he were referring to the Ten Commandments or perhaps “The seven deadly sins” – Pride, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth and Greed but regardless of what he was asking, there is a really easy answer that comes from Jesus’ little brother James where he said;

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”  James 2:10-13 (NLT)

We as humans are broken, sinful people in need of Savior to rescue us from ourselves, see Psalms 14:1-3, Romans 3:23-26 and Romans 5:8-9.

I will tell you what I told him, that I am truly honored that you have opened your heart for us to dialogue about God and to share with you what I have learned through the study of His Word.  I will close with this final truth of Who is God and what do we mean to Him…James 1:16-18 (NLT)

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

We are His prized possession and all God wants from us is a relationship with Him!  Here is a blog I wrote that expands much deeper called…★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★, would love to hear your thoughts!

Here are so follow-up resources…

★  “Tough question…How can a loving God send people to Hell” – Robert Morris

http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/life/events/the-end-what-happens-next/session/2011/08/13/a-tough-question#.TkvLcu7ZdUB.gmail

★  “Functional Faith” – Steven Furtick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935vFzx722c&sns=em

Check back soon as we will be posting ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★  that will continue our series of the 3 Pursuits that will lead to a successful life!

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★ Re|Engage – Completion ★

ReEngage - Lesson 15Well we are in the final stretch!  The last two lessons are on Completion and Diligence.  Throughout the series of posts we have been talking about the importance of applying everything we are learning.  My daughter has this quote on the lock screen of her iPad and I thought about what a profound statement it is…

“God’s Word is like a can of paint…it’s value is in its application.”  Steven Furtick

It reminds me of James 1:22-25:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and your marriage will become stagnant.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Embrace Oneness.

The main idea of Lesson 15 was:

“Part of God’s design in marriage is to use your spouse to conform you into His image. You need to allow your spouse to partner with you in spiritual growth.”

Have you ever thought of marriage from that perspective?  That your spouse is there to help you become more like God?  I love how lesson 15 started off with this quote,

“Reformer Martin Luther once said that he learned more about what it means to be a follower of Christ in a marriage then he did in a monastery. In a monastery, one can isolate. But in marriage, there is no place to hide.”

Amen??  “There is no place to hide.”  Sooner or later the ugly sides of us are going to come out.  But as they said in the reading…

“Your spouse is to complete you in a way that no one else can and encourage your spiritual growth through their unique role in your life.”

“Previous lessons have pointed out that the goal of marriage is oneness, discussing both physical and emotional intimacy. Oneness is also to include spiritual intimacy, and one of the primary ways to promote spiritual oneness is to partner with your spouse in their spiritual growth.”

They asked this question in the reading, How do you help your spouse become more like Christ?  When I first read that question, it took me by surprise because I don’t know if I ever really thought about helping my spouse become more like Christ consciously. But I like what, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV) says…

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

“This passage is talking about how to help four different groups of people, but both you and your spouse often will need the same four things.”

Admonish the Idle.

“There are times when the most loving thing you can do is to help your spouse see their own sin.

Another way to say it is to help them see the blind spots that they have…Those areas that they are not realizing they have a problem…could be working too much, drinking too much or not making your marriage a priority.  This me seem like “Circle infringement,” but keep in mind the council that they offered in the book,

“Admonishing always needs to be done in love and humility.”

I know that we have really emphasized the need for you to “draw the circle around yourself and work on everyone inside,” but this is the point in your journey that you and your spouse start to have overlapping circles…And if you allow the overlap, then God can really use them to help mold you into the person that He intended you to be.

Encourage the Fainthearted.

There will be times when they are fully aware of their shortcomings and are trying to work on issues. Praise your spouse for their efforts, regardless of how small they may seem to you.  Praise them for successes!  Try to overlook the small offenses.

“Pointing out small ways they are changing and growing is motivating and is a great way to help your spouse become who God intended them to be.”

Help the Weak.

“Sometimes your spouse will need more than truth and encouragement; they will also need your tangible expression of support.”

Be Patient with Them All.

“Change in people generally occurs over time. If you are being honest with your spouse, encouraging and helping them along the way, then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”

Did you catch that last part?  “Then continue to do so as you pray and wait to let God bring about the change.”  We MUST pray for our spouse and be patient as God moves in their hearts.  Patience one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that can be really challenging sometimes but I think it is one that if we master it, we will reap the rewards in our marriages!

“Helping someone grow will always be difficult, but there is no greater joy than having a front-row seat to life-change.”

This is so true!!  It may be difficult but oh so rewarding!  One of my favorite quotes was,

“Authors Gary and Betsy Ricucci said, ‘One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”

I never thought of my spouse that way before this class, but that description is dead on!

“The 24/7 spotlight that marriage puts on your life will fully expose who you really are.  You can pretend at work and with your friends, but your quirks, sin patterns and selfishness will become fully exposed to your spouse overtime.”

We heard this quote in Lesson 8 but it is worth repeating… Author Gary Thomas asked this interesting question that I will pose to you…“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”What do you think of that?

“The challenge is to see marriage primarily as a way to become more like Christ by helping you to become a serving, forgiving and more patient person.”

You could look at it this way, Marriage is the vehicle to humbleness.

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Diligence ★

Or if you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here . . .

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

 

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★ Day 24 – Reason for the Season – Best Christmas Gift Ever! ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1Well, we made it!  We have arrived…Merry Christmas!!  I received this from Mardels which I though was very clever..Today the last candle is lit on the Advent Wreath that represents Jesus, which is the only white candle representing Christ Himself…The Candle is in the center of the wreath as Christ should be the center of our life!24 - Daily Dependence - Advent Wreath 5

Galatians 4:4-5 (HCSB) says,

“When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

24 - Daily Dependence - Galatians 4-4-5 - The Nativity SceneWhat great news!!  I am so thankful that because of the events 2,000 years ago, I can now be called a son!  What an astounding thought that Jesus, being fully God and fully man would come to earth to be born in a stable and then die on a Roman cross all for me…and for you too!!  (See Hebrews 2:5-18)  I heard a great message from Dr. David Jeremiah called What Christmas Meant to Christ”.  He talked about how The Christmas story has been told from every conceivable point of view…in fact that is exactly what we have done for these past 25 days from the Angel Gabriel, to Mary to the Shepherds to the Wise Men.  In the sermon Dr. David Jeremiah wanted to look at Christmas from a perspective that’s often overlooked…through the eyes of Jesus Himself…fascinating idea isn’t?  He said,

“Status was never important to Jesus but selflessness was…Christ surrendered everything He loved in order that He might serve those He loved.”

What did Christmas mean to Christ?  It meant giving up heaven, giving up the beauty of His home and selflessly coming to Earth.”

Incredible to think of it that way.  Jesus willingly decided to leave paradise…He knew how hard life was going to be and how horrible His death would be and yet Jesus still went through with it!  Wow!  Ralph W. Sockman made this insightful statement…

“The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.”

Everything changed that night in the stable!  I was listening to a great podcast yesterday on my way home from Steven Furtick called “Don’t Make A Scene” in which he said that we have to embrace the CHAOS and the CONTEXT of Christmas; and related it to what it must have been like in the stable that first Christmas.  As we discussed in ★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★ post, the idyllic nativity scene we always see depicted was anything but that! 24 - Daily Dependence - The Birth of JesusSteven Furtick makes a similar point that it must have actually been “chaotic” and anything but a “silent night” amidst all the animals.  The point that hit home for me was that we must…

“Remember the context of Christmas that Christ came into the world through sinners, for sinners and you’re one of them!”

What an unbelievable gift!  If I may take a moment I have a comic to share about another viewpoint that you do not typically think of…24 - Daily Dependence - Comic – What Do You But the Who Made EverythingIt is a great question which got me thinking about gifts that I have received I that past.  The day after Thanksgiving we pulled out all the Christmas decorations, as this has always been the officially start of the Christmas season for my family.  Box after box I saw written on the bottom “Love Mom” and as I shared in the ★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★ post, my love for Christmas stems from my Mom.  From the time I was 5 years old, she was a divorcee, raising 3 children at a time when there was such a stigma.  She taught us how to be generous, loving and self-sacrificial.  I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas which was done on a single parent’s income!  Thinking back on it now, as a father myself it is amazing how she were able to rub 2 nickels together to create a quarter.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the new Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens movie is out, which is probably the best of all the movies!  Well long before this newest Hollywood offering, I had the Rebel Transport Ship from “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strike Back” movie on my Christmas List which I desperately wanted.  My mom rode on the back of a motorcycle through 3 states looking for it just so I wouldn’t be disappointed on Christmas morning.  35 years later I still have it because it was the best gift ever!  24 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars Rebel Transport ShipMy mom always made my wishes come true and put in some much love, time and effort to make Christmas a wonderful time!!  My childhood was spent watching the original Star Wars Trilogy and playing with the toys.  I have two daughters now and have shared my love of Star Wars with them.  My youngest, spent hours playing with the action figures herself which brought such joy to me.  When she was 10 years old, she made this great pun from the catch phrase “May the Force Be With You” (which for those who are not familiar with the franchise, that is the central theme from Star Wars)…

“And may your God be with you!” 

I pray that for everyone who reads these blogs…that you would look to God the Father and accept the sacrifice of His Son Jesus for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world when Adam rebelled against God.  Romans 5:18-21 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.  God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

My mom’s sacrificial love for me and desire to give me a Christmas to remember was my first example of what sacrificial love was.  As I was writing this ”Reason for the Season,” my wife and oldest daughter had the same revelation from God that just like my mom rode through 3 states, Jesus was in the grave for 3 days so that we could be saved from our sin.  Though we go through trials in this world, Jesus knows and can empathize with everything we go through.  Perry Noble from NewSpring Church. Said,

“Jesus was in the tomb for three days, even Jesus didn’t walk out of the storm immediately.  If Jesus didn’t immediately walk out of His storm, why would we think we could immediately walk out of our’s…His strength is greater than our storm!”

The greatest Christmas gift I ever received was not a plastic toy from my favorite movie, but Jesus Christ!  I pray that if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, that you would make that decision today!  If you would like to learn more, check out ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★.  Neal A. Maxwell once said,

“Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus!” 

I love that!  The offer is always extended to us but we have to decide whether we will make room for Him.  Speaking of offers…Are you sick of receiving all the email advertisements like these in your inbox?

I know I am.  But I have a deal for you!  And you don’t need to peel anything back!

24 - Daily Dependence - Countdown to Christmas - Salvation is a Free GiftThe Salvation God provided through His Son has no expiration.

The Offer NEVER Ends!!  Get your life on the right path for FREE when you accept Jesus Christ as your   savior. 

Fine Print: If you are ready to accept Jesus, here is a simple prayer to pray…

Lord I am a sinner.  I have tried to run my life and failed, I cannot do it on my own.  I need a savior.  Please wash me, cleanse me, and create in me a new heart.  I am sorry for my sins and I believe that Jesus died as the payment for those sins.  Take my life, I give it to you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

If you prayed that in earnest, I have great news!  You are now a son or daughter of God!  2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) says…

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

Amen!!  I will close with this quote from William Arthur Ward,

 “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Today if you are grateful to God to for sending His Son, tell Him!  Let God hear your gratitude because today is truly a day to celebrate!
24 - Daily Dependence - Merry CHRISTmas Love Jeus

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 25 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Isn’t the Destination ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1Two songs that always get me into the Christmas spirit are “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” By Andy Williams (a classic,) and any version of “Joy to the World,” (most recently I have been enjoying David Crowder Band’s interpretation of the classic hymn.)  I think this picture of these kids crying, 14 - Daily Dependnece - The most wonderful time of the year as the possibility of the perfect Christmas card is becoming more and more remote, captures many people’s view of this season of chaotic schedules and never-ending lists of things to do.  You can hear the sarcasm of people as they make some comment like “oh yeah, it sure is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year as I am exhausted out of my mind and don’t know how I am going to get everything done in time!  The signage of this photo shoot gone badly is the focus of today’s “Reason for the Season.”

14 - Daily Dependence - Advent Wreath 3The third candle that is lit on the Advent Wreath, which also is the only pink candle, represents Joy.  Joy is such an interesting concept.

Yesterday my pastor was preaching on Joy as part of the Advent Sermon Series we are currently in and he discussed the difference between Joy and Happiness.  Often times the two are used interchangeably but they are radically different.  He said,

“You can have joy but not be happy about circumstances.  You can have happiness but not joy.”  Marty Collier

See HAPPINESS is based on circumstances, whereas JOY is based on our faith in God.  I read a devotional this morning called “The Definition of Joy” from Rick Warren based on Kay Warren’s new book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.

“My problem was my definition of joy.  I thought joy meant feeling good all the time.  That’s impossible!  Even for those who are naturally upbeat and optimistic, that’s impossible…

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.

You’ll find nothing in that definition about happy feelings, because, as we all know, happiness is fleeting and temporary.

Happiness is fleeting, only Joy remains!  The second song that I mentioned that kindles the Christmas spirit in me is Joy to the World.  David Mathis said something very interesting about this song in the preface of John Piper’s “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”

“The advent primarily in view each December is the first coming of Jesus two millennia ago.  But Jesus’s second coming gets drawn in as well, as the popular Christmas carol “Joy to the World” makes plain:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

I was shocked when I read that…I never realized that a song I sang at the top of my lungs during the Christmas season was actually a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphant second return, rather than a song celebrating his first coming.  Published in 1719, the words by English hymn writer Isaac Watts and are based on the second half of Psalm 98 in the Bible. Take a look for yourself…Psalm 98:4-9 (NLT).  Powerful imaginary isn’t it?

And that is what I believe God would like us to grab hold of this Advent Season…Not just to look back at the first coming of Christ, (which is good to do no doubt,) but to also have joyful expectation of Jesus Christ’s second coming as the Book of Revelation speaks of!  Steven Furtick made this statement about Joy that I wanted to share…

“I love the scripture that says that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.  You know what I found out though morning doesn’t happen when it says AM on the clock.  Morning happens when you wake up and throw the covers off and open your eyes to the goodness of God.  In other words the moment you decide to wake up and look, I bet you’ll see God in the middle of your circumstances. I bet you’ll see God in the middle of your difficulty.” 

In the ★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-mas? – Part 2 ★ post we talked about this year is the 50th anniversary of the classic TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Today’s passage is one in the same with what Linus quoted the Gospel According to Luke, verses 8 through 14 of the Kings James Version so we will read it in that translation as well…

14 - Daily Dependence - Angels Visiting Shepherds Collage“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I am so thankful for Charles Schulz fighting to have those (6) verses included because there is so much power in them!  Can you imagine what that scene was like to be one o those shepherds?  Maybe it was a crisp cool night as the Shepheard’s sat around a campfire…all that could be heard was the sheep shuffling around grazing in the open pasture.  The shepherds probably had very little to do, but to gaze at the stars above when all of sudden “the glory of the Lord shone round them!” I have always thought it comical, that Luke writes in the next line, that the “were sore afraid.”  14 - Daily Dependence - Angel Announcement I bet they were, wouldn’t’ you be?!  But I love the reassurance they received from the Angel…“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  Hundreds of years of waiting for this news, and the recipients of the greatest news event in history was not a King or nobles but lowly shepherds tending their flock in the countryside.  Tomorrow we will dig into “A Shepherd’s View of Christmas” so I will defer that aspect of this event until tomorrow.  Like we discussed in the ★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★ post about the journey to Bethlehem for the census, we can gloss over familiar parts of the Christmas Narrative and miss the wonder like the next part…“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Wow can you imagine what that light show must have been like?  What an unbelievable experience to have that proclamation done in front of you!  I am sure all these images pale in comparison to what it must have been like.  I came across this image that I thought was fascinating in how it shows the events unfolding simultaneously…  14 - Daily Dependence - NativityAs Mary lays the baby Jesus down in the manger, we can see the Angelic Heavenly Host declaring the arrival of the Savior of the World in the distance!  This painting is a great visual representation of the tapestry of events that God wove together the lives of many different people to bring about the fulfillment of His Salvation plan as revealed through the prophecies of Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, (to name a few…) right down to the very last detail.  Amazing!  I love this quote from Matt Chandler’s sermon called “Advent (Part 2) – Tell of His Coming: The Shepherds and Angels,”

“God is a God who keeps His promises, even the small ones that don’t seem maybe to matter that much…The fact that God keeps His promises to His people should move our hearts towards worship, move our hearts towards gladness and anchor us in confidence.”

I am thankful for a God who is not only a promise keeper but who is also my anchor!  14 - Daily Dependence - Fit Family - Bring JoyLike the Angels, we need to BRING JOY EVERYWHERE YOU GO.

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Angels – The Voice of Praise.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Angels’ perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Thought for the Day – The Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★ 

 

Have yo84 - In God We Trustu ever thought about when the phrase, “In God We Trust” and when that first appeared on American currency?  I did a quick search on Google and found that…

“The 84th Congress passed a joint resolution “declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.” The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.”  

I am not old enough to remember a time when I did not see that motto inscribed on the change in my pocket but the sad reality is that in less than 60 years, our country has shifted from “In God We Trust,” to a position that God needs to be removed from our schools, our government and any other aspect of public life because of the “offensiveness” of trusting in a loving creator who wants a relationship with us.

If you live in Texas, you have probably seen Billboards like this one, with the simple invitation to go to exploreGod.com.  84 - Daily Dependence - Explore GodFor the past month (at the time of this post), hundreds of small groups and churches around the Dallas Fort Worth Area have been exploring the big questions we all have about God, faith, and purpose. Questions like, “Does life have a purpose?” “Is there a God?” and “Why does God allow pain and suffering?”  My church has been participating in this as well, which has been incredible!  This past week my pastor answered the question, “Is the Bible Reliable?”  He closed the message with this synopsis of the Bible…

“The Bible is the story of God revealing His glory to humanity and redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  Marty Collier  

“Redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  WowI  Every one of us at some point has rejected God, which is why I love this exploreGod.com movement that helps to illuminate the “Big Picture” concepts that often are stumbling blocks to people delving into God’s Word, the Bible.  In 2014, the Barna Research Group along with the American Bible Society released their findings for the State of the Bible which stated:

“This year’s research reveals that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise.  For the first time since tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement.  The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible — who believe that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice” — has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years.” 

This 84 - Daily Dependence - Sign to Meditate on God'sskepticism is without a doubt a contributing factor to the expulsion of God from the public sector, resulting in a vacuum that people are filling with anything and everything.  And as people reject God and the Bible, Satan capitalizes on this trend by screaming lies about God faithfulness and love for us because he knows if we tap into that unlimited power source, our lives would be set free..  To continue with the sign theme, here is an incredible message that Satan does not want you to get in your spirit!

“If the lies of Satan consume you, meditate on the Word of God and it’s truth will set you free!”

To build on this truth, Steven Furtick made this great parallel in his book, Crash the Chatterbox …

“We can never hope to cras84 - Daily Dependence - Steven Furtick - Intentionally Feed Your Faithh the chatterbox [Satan’s lies] until the signal (God’s Word) becomes louder in our lives than the incessant noise around us that clamors for our attention and depletes our courage.  Rather than waiting for more faith to magically manifest, we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess by fanning into flame the gift that is in us.  We must eat what God has already cooked up.” 

Don’t miss this point, “we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess!”  We need to be reading and meditating on the Bible daily so that our faith can increase and the chatterbox can be silenced!

2 Timothy ‭4:7-8‬ ‭(NLT‬) says…84 - 2 Timothy 4 - 7-8 Runners Bib

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”

It is all about perseverance, replacing the lies with truth! Here is the inspiration for this Thought for the Day…What is the Unfathomable Payoff of Faith?  Well just look at these incredible promises if we will just trust God from Psalms‬ ‭91:1-9, 14-16 ‭(NLT)…

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

He is my God, and I trust him.

For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,”

The LORD says,

I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Go back and re-read every one of those underlined promises, aren’t these just amazing verses?  I pray that you would make  the decision today to deepen your understanding of God regardless of your past or your current level of faith (or lack of…) God is just waiting for you to take one step towards Him!

Do you want to explore the big questions we all have about God?  Go to exploreGod.com or go to ►►You Opinion Matters… and send me a message and I will help you.

Also if you are interested check out 

★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★ 

which digs into the significance of reading the bible.

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★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

82 - Daily Dependence - Overwhelmed or Overcoming - WebsiteToday’s thought is going to dig into…What are Problems Really…How to avoid being overwhelmed, and more importantly how to overcome them!  Problems come for many different reasons.  It could be because of poor decisions on our part, an attack from the Devil (see 1 Peter 5:8), or sometimes it is a test or opportunity to grow.  I want to make a clear delineation that I am not suggesting that we put a positive spin on things and call your problems “opportunities” like this Dilbert comic…

82 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Opportunity

But rather we need to recognize the problem, and see it for what it is and go to God for help before we become overwhelmed.  My pastor preached last Sunday on Numbers 35 and the “Cities of Refuge.”  Quick synopsis…God had established the several Cities of Refuge for the Israelites before they entered into the Promised Land to provide a place of escape and protection if a person accidentally killed someone.  My Pastor made an incredible parallel to the Cities of Refuge and Jesus that blew me away!  You can hear it for yourself by clicking here, but what I wanted to mention was a fascinating statement someone told him…

“Most people see God as a good idea, but don’t see Him as a necessity.”

What do you think of this?  I don’t pretend to believe that everyone who reads my blogs has a belief in the One True God, the Creator of the Universe, or are sold out followers of Jesus so I will pose this question to you…Do you see God as a good idea or as a necessity?  The answer to this question will be a good indicator to whether you will be overwhelmed by life or will overcome the adversity in front of you.  In two previous posts, ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★ and ★ Thought for the Day – What’s In Your Sponge? ★, we delved into the reality that storms WILL COME into your life.  Not that they MAY COME!  We unpacked the importance to persevere through the hard seasons of life and learn from the storms that God will change you!  Today’s thought will build upon that foundation and develop further the last post, ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★.  You may ask, “why so many posts with a similar topic”…Well we all face an onslaught of negativity and attacks everyday, so the only way to combat that is to fill our minds with the opposite which is God’s Truth on the subject matter!  Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV1984) says…

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  Selah”

When you see God as a necessity, you will see Him as a place to run to for safety and security.  You will see Him as a source of strength and the foundation that your life should be built on.  But if you see God only as a good idea, then it is all on you to solve every problem on your on strength.  If you grab hold of the truth of Psalm 46:1-3, it could be a life changer.  You’ve heard it said, “When life gives you LEMONS, make LEMONADE?”  You could dismiss this as just a platitude, and continue to let life’s problems paralyze you, or you could view it as an opportunity to learn and grow from it.  I love how Robert H. Schuller put it…

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

If you view your circumstances in this light, and change your perspective, who knows how things could change.  How you look at problems and conversely, how you react, is key.  American educator, author and businessman Stephen Covey coined the 90/10 Principle which was…

“10 percent of life is made up of what happens to you; 90 percent of life is decided by how you react.”

Which also aligns with a great scripture from Philippians 4:8

It comes down to focus!  What will you focus on when problems arise?  Will you see them as stop signs or guidelines.  Steven Furtick said,

“Real faith knows that sometimes in order to see a change, you have to stare through a situation.”

“We always think that God’s presence is provided to fix our problems.  But what if God’s presence is more about fixing your perspective, so that you have a new way to see your problems.”  

Being overwhelmed is what happens when you try to handle things are your on strength, overcoming is when you let God handle things.  I like how Steven Furtick put that…sometimes we need to “stare through a situation” in order to see your problems with a new perspective!  It reminds me of a scene from the 1998 movie “Patch Adams.”  In this scene below, it give some great insight about staring through a situation.  I know this is dating me but watch the clip nonetheless…

I love the advice in the scene that Robin Williams’ character is told…

“You’re focusing on the problem.  If you focus on the problem, you can’t see the solution.  Never focus on the problem.”

The same is true for us, if we focus on the problem we will miss the solution which is God.  Sometimes though we will have to go through some testing though…James 1:2-4 (ESV) talks about the benefit of the Testing of Your Faith…

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [another translations says ‘endurance’].  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Count it all joy?  What?  When have you ever looked at problems as a test that you should be happy about?  I once heard someone say “A test is an opportunity.”  An opportunity that if you endure and conquer you will come out the better for just as James instructs.  In speaking on this verse, Mark Driscoll said it perfectly..

“What this means is you’ll become more godly, you’ll become more like Jesus.  The trial will be used to transform you.  OK, how many of you want to be more like Jesus?  How many of you want a trial?  OK?  Just so you know, they’re the same question...it’s like, ‘I want to be buff without working out.  I want to learn a lot without reading books.’  It doesn’t work that way.  Cause, effect; reap, sow.  Steadfastness produces maturity.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed to become more like Jesus BUT to be molded and shaped into His image means that sometimes I have to go through some hard times to refine me and purify me.  2 Corinthians 1:4 says though we go through trouble…

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 

I have needed much comfort lately as I have been overwhelmed by pressures and struggles that I am going through.  God has spoken so clearly in my quiet time and also through my friends and my wife.  She sent the 2 Corinthians verse to me with this word of encouragement that I will close this thought of the Day with…

“I love the idea of this and it is my prayer that the struggles and trials I have gone through would allow me to help and encourage others.  If we allow Him to work in us, He can turn our mess into a message, our test into a testimony.  Be encouraged there is PURPOSE for the PAIN.”

Problems are going to happen.  We live in a “Fallen World” and Satan is always looking to cause hardships in our life in.  But when we persevere and overcome the adversity, it will develop us, breaking the focus from ourselves and making us more like Jesus so that we can help others!!  Will your problems be a stop sign or a guideline?  Trust God in whatever you are going through today and let it transform you!  I will close with Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) which says:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run i82 - Daily Dependence - Romans 5-3 - 5nto problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of characterand character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

So how will you be described today?  As…
82 - Daily Dependence - Overwhelmed or Overcoming - Website

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

Did this title peak your interest?  A buddy of mine asked me where the ideas come from for the “Thoughts for the Days” that I share…were they just from my quiet time while reading the Bible or from somewhere else.  The answer is yes.  God definitely speaks through His Word as I read in the morning, but they are also are inspired from friends or sometimes through a circumstance I am going through.  Today’s “Thought” is unfortunately a result of the latter.  My situation is not life-threatening but it has inflicted some serious mental stress.  It is amazing how tiring it can be running through different scenarios in your mind to find solutions when you are having conflict and strife with someone.  I previously posted ★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ about what my wife and I learned from a class on this topic.  I have attempted to implement the principles with this person but sometimes no matter how much you try you can’t stop someone from coming after you.

Recently I have been reading about the prophet Elijah who is such a fascinating Old Testament character.  He had incredible highs and lows in his service to God.  We first meet Elijah when God sends him to challenge the evil King of Israel, Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1 (NLT)…

“…As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!””

God then has Elijah go away for the rest of chapter 17 during the 3-1/2 year drought in which God provides for Elijah in unbelievable ways, (go read it for yourself), but I want to pick up in 1 Kings 18:1 (NLT) when God tells Elijah…

“…Go and present yourself to King Ahab.  Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

If you have never read this story about Elijah facing off with King Ahab, 1 Kings 18:1-46 tells the whole account of one of the most epic showdowns that has ever happened!  In all it’s offerings, Hollywood has never given us a greater one than this in my opinion.  Elijah challenges King Ahab and tells him in 1 Kings 18:19-21…

“Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”  So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel.  Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him!  But if Baal is God, then follow him!”  But the people were completely silent.”

81 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on 1 Kings 18Cliff notes version of chapter 18…Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to call down fire to burn up a bull on the altar.  They started at noontime and “they raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response [from their Gods.]”  (1 Kings 18:29 NLT).  Okay now it is Elijah’s turn…He prepared his bull and stacked the odds against God by having (12) large jars of water poured over the bull and wood.  Then in 1 Kings 18:38-39 (NLT) he prays to God in view of all and…

“Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust.  It even licked up all the water in the trench!  And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The LORD —He is God!  Yes, the LORD is God!'”

81 - Daily Dependence - BamOne request from Elijah and God delivers BIG TIME!  He then tells the people to grab the prophets of Baal and Asherah so that they could be killed…and incredibly they did!!  Wow…talk about a massive triumph!!  Elijah stood up against King Ahab and 850 false prophets in full view of all the people of Israel and trusted God in a mighty way.  But all this is just setting up for what I really want to talk about which is what happens after the mountaintop experience with God.  What happens after you have a spiritual victory…Chapter 18 without a doubt was a huge high point but chapter 19 gives us whiplash as Elijah hits the lowest low ever.  1 Kings 19:1-4 (NLT) says…

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal.  So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”  

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.  He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.  Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day.  He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.  “I have had enough, LORD,” he said.  “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.””  

These (4) verses have always puzzled me.  How do you go from calling fire down from heaven and ordering 850 false prophets to be slain, only to be running for your life just a few verses later because one person because threatened to kill you?  Now I said “person” instead of woman, because regardless of your gender, you can be threatened by either a man or woman, who could cause you to run away from the issue.  It could be a bully at school, someone at work or a complete stranger.  In Elijah’s case, it was a woman, but before we judge him too harshly, I wanted to give some insight into the type of person Jezebel was.  1 Kings 21:25 (NLT) tells about the influence she had on King Ahab…

“No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the LORD’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.”

“Under the influence of his wife.”  Now everyone has a choice whether to follow or to be a leader, but obviously Jezebel was quite evil and had significant influence on he husband.  I am not saying that woman or wives are evil, rather this one particular female was.  You have probably heard someone say something like: “That woman is a Jezebel.”  That comparison is a result of King Ahab’s wife; Jezebel has become synonymous with the description of “a wicked, shameless woman.” (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jezebel).  Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary had this commentary on Jezebel:

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel.  She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God.  Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man…”

So you can understand that the person chasing Elijah was a pretty nasty individual, (1 Kings has other accounts as well.)  I recently found my answer to how someone could go from “hero to zero” overnight as I have had a “Jezebel” in my life chasing after me.  I think Steven Furtick nailed it when he was speaking of Elijah and said,

“We don’t experience our reality.  We experience our perspective of reality.” 

The answer is perspective!  Not seeing things for what they are.  Just like Elijah lost sight of the fact that God was able to wipe out 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah who opposed him and then allowed one person to scare him so much that the very next day he went on the run; I too lost my perspective and allowed one person’s opinion and harsh words to put me in a tailspin.  Now I did not leave the state and take residency in a cave, but it did completely disrupt my state of mind at work and home.  And why??  Jack Graham gives some great insight for that answer:

“After the spiritual victory, Elijah was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.  So when word came that Jezebel the queen wanted him dead, he ran for his life.  And here’s the key: Elijah took his eyes off God.”

We cannot take our eyes off of God, not even for a second!  When we do, our perspective gets distorted and we can so quickly get derailed.  We have to always be on the alert that the enemy will use people to being knock you down.  Spiritual warfare is very real and the Devil is always looking to get revenge after you have a spiritual victory!  That is why 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) is so important to remember…

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Elijah is a such a powerful example of the highs and lows we can experience in our walk with God… But we can also use his story as a way to motivate us to persevere and not give up when we are in the lowest valley.  We need to believe what Psalms 24:1–3 says,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?  The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?  When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”

Is is really easy to chant and embrace verse 1…“The LORD is my light and my salvation.”  But I think the end of verse 3 is a whole lot harder to hold fast to…“Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”  But that is the point, we need to believe in it all…from verse 1 to 3!  God is so faithful, He spoke to me with this verse recently when He prompted my wife to text this verse to me literally right after I had just read it from a “Verse of the Day” email I received that morning!  God speaks, we just need to be listening for that “still small voice!”  In my case, I needed to look up rather than focus on the circumstance or person chasing me.  My perspective was completely flipped…I will no longer be running from my “Jezebel!”  I will not let anybody tear me down anymore, not because I will be fighting them, but because I let God fight for me.  All I need to do is just continue doing the right thing.  I will close with this final thought from Charles Stanley…

Yes everyone wants the Mount Carmel experience but it is in the valley that God will do some of His best work because all we have is Him!!  The Lord will fight for you, you need only trust His faithfulness!

Here is the next post that builds on this thought called…

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★

ReEngage - Lesson 11So how are you enjoying the series from the re|engage class?  I know they have been strung out over time but if you have missed any you can read previous posts on lessons… DailyDependence.WordPress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

My hope is that as you read these that you will start to apply the principles that you are learning about.  The goal is to get better at extending grace and forgiveness…to try to communicate more so that conflict is stopped before it escalates?  It is important to put into practice what we learn.  Knowledge without application is pointless.

In the Communication lesson I mentioned that the first 8 lessons are all about explaining the gospel and how it relates to marriages, the second half is all about the practical response to the Gospel.

And that is the point; each additional lesson will give you another tool in your toolbox to improve your marriage.  2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) says,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Consider this your battle cry to fight for your marriage!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Adore and Respect.

The main idea of Lesson 11 was:

You have many expectations about your spouse and your marriage that, if unmet and handled incorrectly, will lead to disappointment and anger. You need to be able to articulate and deal with unmet expectations and realize that God is your only true hope.

Unmet expectations are one of the major causes for conflict in a marriage.  They can really damage a marriage if we are not careful.  Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) says,

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

As we delve into the topic of “Expectations,” a good thing to remember in marriage is to…ALWAYS test the voice in your head.  As your expectations of your spouse are not met think through what is going on.

For instance, when your husband forgets to take out the trash, Satan will whisper, “He is so lazy. He’ll never change.”  You will start dwelling on that characteristic.

However, if you ask yourself the question about who would be whispering that to you, you’ll realize that your Heavenly Father would NOT be telling you how lazy your husband is.

God’s voice would be saying, “I love this guy, and I sent my son to die for him. Treat him as I would.”

The same obviously applies to woman as well, but I will just pick on the men!

Ultimately we need to change the way we approach situations because if we continue to expect the same thing without changing anything, we will continue in the crazy cycle.

You’ve heard it said, “Insanity: Doing the Same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Albert EinsteinReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence - Albert Einstein - Insanity

The book had this great definition of what expectations are, and if we can grasp this, we can get out of the insanity cycle.

“Expectations are attitudes and thoughts regarding the way things could be or should be, and you have expectations for every area of your life.”

Right before I was married by my wife’s uncle, he said something which has stuck with us for our entire marriage,

“The things that attract you to your spouse have a flip side.  Over time the very thing that you loved can cause conflict.”

For instance:

  • You could be attracted to someone who is very dependable and that you can count on, the flip side of that is that person may be boring.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very good at managing money, the flip side of that is that person may be very cheap and never wants to go out anywhere.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very healthy and works out all the time, the flip side of that is that person may be at the gym all the time, leaving the other person home alone often.

This piece of advice really helped us to keep an eye on our expectations and understand the reality of this “flip side.”  ReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence -FlipsideSo for a bonus action item, think about what attracted your spouse and then think about whether the “flip side” is causing conflict or hurt right now.  Then discuss it together.

“You joy is your job…I own my emotions, emotions don’t own me.”  Steven Furtick

I think everyone will agree that expectations can be a very dangerous thing, especially when they are not met.  I love this quote,

“In marriage, your spouse often doesn’t have the same expectations or isn’t aware of yours, which can create tension in a relationship.”

Amen?  I think the book nailed it when they said that,

“Generally, your expectations are not right or wrong; however, the way you deal with unmet expectations can have a lot to do with whether you experience oneness in your marriage.”

Most people have an idealized view of marriage that it will be the perfect fulfillment of all their dreams…that the woman will be swept off her feet by her knight in shining armor and the two will live happily ever after.

Months and months are spent planning a wedding, working on all the intricate details, but what is usually left out of the equation is what happens when the Honeymoon’s over (literally).

  • How will we raise the kids, will someone stay home?
  • Who will manage the checkbook/finances?
  • How will we handle conflict? Etc.

When you think about this, it is absolutely insane, planning for months for one day but giving little thought for the future.  We have all done it, whether consciously or unconsciously, we all came into marriage with expectations.  The lesson made this point,    

“Expectations are powerful. When they are unmet, they lead to disappointment, frustration and often anger.” 

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) says,

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

That is so true!!  What else is true is the point that,

“When you’re disappointed or frustrated, you may stop giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt.”

“When you are angry, small disagreements can escalate, and you can begin to believe the worst about your spouse. You may begin to think that they are doing (or not doing) things out of spite.”

Like not taking out the garbage, this is an easy shot since I miss that mid-week pick up all the time!

“Unmet expectations lead to negative emotions, and these negative emotions are the soil from which bitterness and anger grow.”

In the book, they talked about “How to Handle Expectations.”

  1. Identify Your Expectations.

“Most of the time, you don’t realize the source of your expectations. Your expectations about life and marriage or formed from a variety of sources like family, friends, church, books, movies and television.”

Ask yourself, “Where does this expectation come from?” And “Is this expectation reasonable?”

  1. Communicate Beforehand.

“Remember, expectations are clear in your mind, but need to be communicated so that they will be clear in your spouse’s mind.”

Your spouse is not a mind reader.

  1. Believe the best.

“If your expectations are met, don’t let it negatively affect how you view your spouse and marriage. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and be gracious and kind.”

“Relate to them the way you hope they will relate to you the next time you don’t meet their expectations.”  Remember “The Golden Rule”

  1. Communicate with God.

“Because your spouse is human, they will disappoint you and let you down. God is the only one who does not disappoint. When your hopes are placed on Him, you will not be disappointed or let down.”

Which one of these do you struggle with?  My favorite quote from the lesson is the “The Great Irony”…

“Just as your spouse is a source of unmet expectations, remember that you are the source of unmet expectations for them. This levels the playing field and reminds you that you need to be gracious and forgiving.”

“The temptation is to focus on the fact that your spouse did not meet your expectations and blame them for your reaction.”

The book reiterates this over and over, the key is to draw the circle around you and work on changing everyone inside that circle.  You cannot change your spouse; Only God can…so we need to stop trying!!

“Regardless of the circumstances, you are responsible for the way you handle your negative emotions. Therefore, the proper response is not to focus on what your spouse did or did not do, but rather how you can best honor God in the midst of your unmet expectations.”

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

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★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★

ReEngage - Lesson 10

To follow along with the Principle:  Give Yourself Away, Lesson 9 was about Conflict with this main idea:

Conflict in marriage is normal and a great opportunity to glorify God, grow yourself and grow your spouse. Handling conflict biblically is a great path to oneness with your spouse.

What do you think of that?  I don’t think that many people view conflict in that manner…inside conflict avoidance is the norm!  But in this lesson, they made this point.

“No matter how good your marriage is, you will have conflict. It’s normal, inevitable and should be expected.”

 One could look at this as a pessimistic view, but it’s a realistic view.  Stephen Furtick made this point, he said,

“There is no perfect marriage, but you can have a blessed marriage!” 

I thought that it was really interesting in the reading when it said that,

“Conflict isn’t necessary bad or destructive; it can actually be a great opportunity to move toward oneness.”

But that really isn’t what our normal reaction to conflict is right?  But it is a very normal way to react to something that we don’t want to deal with.

“Even though conflict causes a great deal of tension in your marriage, God can use it to grow your relationship with Him and your spouse.”

We should not try to avoid conflict but rather learn “how to deal with conflict and seeing it as an opportunity to grow yourself, your marriage and your spouse, and to glorify God.”

I read this quote Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11 NIV1984). Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

The lesson gave (5) practical ways of how to deal with the conflict:

  1. Start With Yourself                              
  2. Overlook Minor Offenses
  3. Address The Issue
  4. Get Help If Needed
  5. View Conflict Correctly

As you read what the details of this area, prayerfully consider which one(s) of these to you struggle with?

START WITH YOURSELFThe running theme of draw the circle around yourself continues…

“Part of conflict resolution is recognizing and admitting what you contribute to the conflict.”

Jesus said in Matthew 7:5 (ESV)

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

OVERLOOK MINOR OFFENSES

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”   Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

Easier said than done sometimes, but I like what they said in the reading that,

As a general rule, an offense should be overlooked if you can answer “no” to all of the following questions:

  • Is the offense dishonoring to God?
  • Has permanently damage a relationship?
  • Is it hurting other people?
  • Is it hurting the offender himself?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions then address the issue, otherwise it would be better to extend grace to your spouse and let the issue go.

ADDRESS THE ISSUE

I like how they started off by making the point that we need to identify our own part to the conflict and then once you’ve asked for forgiveness for what we’ve caused then we can address the issue.

“Humility can be contagious and your spouse may respond similarly.”

When addressing the issue, we need to be honest, and at the same time kind.  Many people like to sweep things under the rug because they fear that talking about things will only make it worse, but the book nailed it with,

ReEngage - Lesson 10 - Tripping Hazard“Ignoring conflict often only makes matters worse and the issue will likely resurface again later.”

You can only sweep so much under the rug before it becomes a tripping hazard.

GET HELP IF NEEDED

“Conflict usually isn’t resolved through one conversation. Sometimes it will be resolved through a process of continuing to pray and communicate, and committing to not avoid the issue.”

And if the issue can’t be resolved is a good idea to, it is good to get the help of others from your church…or you could look into where a re|engage class is offered.

“The goal is not to present a case against your spouse or convince others you are right; rather, the goal is to ensure that you and your spouse understand one another and are reconciled.”

Conflict is a problem with the heart. We need to study our spouses and empathize with what they are going through.

VIEW CONFLICT CORRECTLY

“The question isn’t if you are going to have conflict, but rather how you are going to view and handle the conflict you have.

“Healthy couples see conflict as an opportunity to deal with issues that are moving them away from oneness. They keep short accounts and don’t allow conflict to go unaddressed.”

I heard a message from Steven Furtick that goes along perfectly with this,

“In order to guard your heart, you have to own your emotions.” 

“Since when was your happiness on someone else’s job description?”

Ephesians 4:2-3 (ESV). In what ways will you put this person to practice this week?

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 

Matthew 7:5 (ESV).

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

What are some logs you need to take out of your own eye?  John McGee gave this perfect advice:

“Most conflict in marriages will disappear if two selfless people try really hard to understand each other.” 

Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984)

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

 

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★ 

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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★ Thought for the Day – Keeping up with the Joneses? ★ 

I am about to date myself…Do you remember the TV series “Home Improvement?”  It aired from 1991–1999 and was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards.  Each week, I looked forward to seeing what mess Tim Taylor would get himself in to.  As the clumsy, uncoordinated TV show host of “Tool Time”, Tim Taylor (who was played by Tim Allen,) would get himself into hot water all the time, either with his wife, his kids or the flannel sporting co-host, Al Borland.  After each fight, Tim would find himself in the backyard looking over the fence for his neighbor Wilson to get some sage advice and wisdom.  And all the time, Tim would walk away with a new perspective on the circumstance.  Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to tidy up our mess in the span of 30 minutes?

As we delve into this Thought for the Day, I think many of the messes we find ourselves in, are actually a result of looking over the fence.  Unlike Tim Taylor, when we are looking over the fence at what other people possess, we can set ourselves up for trouble.  When I was in college, any class that I took that dealt with Marketing was always a favorite!  It continually amazes me how a slogan, TV commercial or catchy jingle can move people from not even being aware of a product, to absolutely having to have it…But consumers need to be aware and understand the power that marketing has on our buying decisions.  We need to be wise and avoid “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

68 - Daily Dependence -Keeping up with the Joneses

Let me ask you…Are you content with your life??  Or what I really want to know, are you content with what God is doing in your life?  Let that permeate your spirit for a moment and be honest with yourself.  If you answered no, then you are not alone, I have struggled with this myself so many times; not being content with the speed of paying off debt or building up of my savings or that the process is so hard.  This has led me to get so focused and consumed that at times I lose sight of my peace and joy.  I heard a great message from Dr. Tony Evans a while ago called “Reversing the Financial Curse”, he said:

"The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don't treat the resource like it's the source."
“The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don’t treat the resource like it’s the source.”

We all want to be financially stable and have some margin between us and life.  To be able to have more money at the end of the month than bills and to even be able to enjoy life a little but we need to learn contentment when things do not happen as quickly as we would wish.  Speaking from experience, I want to encourage you that as you are working on achieving Financial Peace, by building some cushion in your finances, a.k.a. an emergency fund, DO NOT let that become your “source” of security.  Remember that God is the source, and the emergency fund is just a resource.  It is important that we build an emergency fund, as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches, but do not treat God as a resource to get a larger emergency fund…understand that HE is the source.  Trust in Him to be your provider and not on yourself, your bank account or your 401K.  To read more on this, check out a previous post called…★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★

Charles Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” has some about great insight about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions.  He talked about Paul’s imprisonment and quoted Philippians 4:10-13:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Charles Stanley put it this way, that “Paul learned the secret of being content in and through circumstances. It wasn’t the secret of changing – or getting God to change – his circumstances.  Paul meant I can endure any circumstance without losing my peace and my joy because of the strength I gain through my relationship with Christ.”

According to Dr. Stanley there are 3 truths to have contentment:

  1. Contentment hinges on what’s happening inside us not around us. When we become discontented, the first two things we lose are our peace and joy.  But the bible teaches that peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit.  As long as our contentment can be destroyed by a change in our environment, we can never be content in any circumstance.
  1. Contentment is need, not want oriented.  God will meet our needs; He is going to take care of us.  Much of our discontentment stems from not getting what we want.  God has not promised to meet our wants but our needs.  He goes on to say, ask yourself this question: Is God meeting my needs?  If the answer is yes, stop and thank Him.  Don’t allow your emotions to attach themselves to your wants.
  1. Contentment is trusting God even when things seem out of control.  Discontentment on the other hand, is really a lack of faith in God’s love and concern for us.  Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  When things around Paul fell apart, he kept trusting God.  And consequently Paul was content.

He went on to say, if you look at the flip side of contentment that is Dis-contentment. Discontentment clouds our decision-making process, making it almost impossible to wait.”  The emotions that accompany discontentment are so strong that they often override reason.  People in marketing understand this all too well. Just think about it, part of any effective advertising campaign is to make potential customers discontented with their existing product.  These feelings that accompany discontentment are enough to make people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.  Dave Ramsey made this hysterical statement,

“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” 

Keeping up with the Joneses is futile and can steal our peace and joy.  Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University class that we need to develop the “power over purchase.”

“You can buy FUN but you cannot buy HAPPINESS.  Happiness is contentment where you are right now.”

If we could grasp this, we would be happier, and would have more peace and security.  Sometimes though, it’s not just about wanting as nice of a car as your neighbor, but rather, the fear or anxiety of keeping a roof above your head and food on the table.  Whenever I have seen Hebrews 13:5 quoted, it is always the second half of the verse (see the underlined portion below), but it is interesting to see the first part in context.

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said,
I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.’”  Hebrews 13:5

Context is everything!  Could God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit be trying to convey a spiritual truth that we can trust Him in our finances?  Most definitely yes!  When we love money and are NOT content with God’s provision, only trouble will result, replacing peace and joy with anxiety and fear.  Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Steven Furtick made this profound statement about this verse…

“One of the reasons we’re so anxious about what’s coming, is because we’re not thankful enough for what we have.  And so Paul says if all you ever pray about is what you need but never stop and thank God for what you have, you’ll always be anxious.” 

Verse 7 of Philippians goes on to say,

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We all want the “peace of God” in verse 7 but to get that, we need to first go through verse 6, and be thankful for what God has provided for us.  It is all about having the right perspective with our priorities aligned with God’s.  Proverbs 30:7-9 (NLT) is one of my absolute favorite verses on this subject.

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! 

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

How different would our lives be if we embraced this wisdom?  Do you know who is the wisest human being that ever lived?  No, it is not our president or any other modern-day leader.  It is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or any other celebrity.  The wisest man who ever lived was King Solomon.  His Wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:29-30 (NIV1984)

“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”

So if the source of his Wisdom is from God, then he must have some good advice when it comes to contentment right?  Look at what the wisest man has to say Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 (NLT)

“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards…I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women…I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces…I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure…But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

Wow!  That is an eye opener…Look at that underlined part…Solomon “had everything a man could desire!”  And in the end he concluded that accumulating possessions was “meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

And the reason being is what Howard Dayton said,

No amount of stuff is going to give you contentment or fulfillment.  Do you want to know what is the antidote is to discontentment?  Helping others!  Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)  says,

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

So the next time you are looking over the fence, look at how you can help your neighbor, instead of coveting their possessions, because God desires our priorities to be in alignment with His…It’s the people in the big houses that are important not what’s in it.  1 Timothy 6:6 gives us this promise,

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

As you move further along on the journey, keep these thoughts on the sticky side of your brain so that when the enemy rushes in with his lies, you can combat him with the truth which Proverbs 3:5-10 so perfectly reminds us…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Keep pressing on and looking up, to “THE ONE” who will help you reach Financial Peace!  God Bless!

If you are interested in learning more about managing your finances God’s way, check out this post called…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★.

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★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Settle For First Place ★

As the winter doldrums are upon us, and frigid weather wreaks havoc across our nation, I think to myself, how can anyone work outside in such cold weather.  When the thermometer reads below freezing and it has been nothing but gloomy for weeks, it’s hard for me to get motivated to leave the house to go to my heated office.  As the stream of consciousness flows, I start to think about how incredible the athletes are who compete in the Winter Olympics.  I must confess, I don’t watch the Winter games as much as the Summer ones.  My personal favorite, (along with the rest of the world,) is American swimmer, Michael Phelps who holds the all-time record for Gold medals, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time!  My reason though is because I was a swimmer back in the day, and marvel at his superhuman skills!  But I digress…back to the Winter games…In looking for a “winner’s box” photo, I stumbled across this photo from February 12, 2014 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which really caught my eye.

The article that it was associated with was titled the “Best of Sochi: Day 5 at the Olympics,” (having not seen it, I will take their word,) but what got my attention was not the celebratory leap from Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany, but rather the expressions and body language of silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R).  It is clear that Akito and Magnus were not as thrilled with their accomplishments as Eric was!  As each of these athletes stepped onto the winner’s box and received their medal, you know, a sea of emotions and thoughts were flooding their minds from “I can’t believe I placed” to…”How did I only come in second (…or third place).”  It is so easy for us to go from celebration to condemnation and that’s the pitfall of comparison!  One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt is,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

STOP!  Go back and read and ponder on that incredible truth!  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  When we compare ourselves to others, we open ourselves to disappointment.  Have you ever felt like Akito Watabe that you are “Mr. 2nd Place?”  Are you tired of never making gold?  Though he is an incredible athlete, and has competed in two Winter Olympics, Akito has never brought home the gold!!  Are you always ending up second in line, playing second fiddle, or being runner-up?  Regardless of what you label it, second place can be very frustrating for sure, especially when you have put in the work!  For me, I have always finished 5th or 6th place…(out of 8), when I competed on the High School Varsity Swim Team; a very different league from “Mr. 1st Place” Michael Phelps..  Now before you start feeling bad for me, I am way over the agony of the defeat. Hahaha!  I learned long ago that nothing good ever comes comparing my accomplishments with others.

Do you know that there was one guy in the Bible who truly was “Mr. 2nd Place?”  This guy had a huge following, with many disciples and more and more converts coming to be baptized every day…but when the #1 guy showed up on the scene, people flocked to Him instead…that of course was John the Baptist, who very well could have been the originator of the “I Am Second” campaign…Just look at his response to the critics when the people left to go to follow Jesus…he said:
 65 - Daily Dependence - I Am Second - John 3-30
“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater,
and I must become less and less.”  John 3:30 (NLT)

See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star…Jesus was!  Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) says,

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I love how the Message Translation puts it, “make a careful exploration of who you are,” once you know who you are, then what other people do or say will not affect how you think about yourself.  But it is very easy to get sidetracked looking outward versus inward, as a result of Social Media.
65 - Daily Dependence - Social Media Summary
Though it has revolutionized our lives, allowing us to share our interests, lives, and make new connections, whether you Pin It, Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, Google+ it, or Link In with people.  But with every great thing, there is always a flip-side.  Steven Furtick has a new book called “Crash the Chatterbox” which is all about hearing the voice of God over all the other voices in our mind that try to tear you down causing us to be discontent and insecure with ourselves.  He said,

"One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's highlight reel." Steven Furtick

Wow!  If you struggle with insecurity, this truth should set you free right now!!  Receive that today!

The next part of Galatians 6:4 says that we should make a careful exploration of “the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”  See just like John the Baptist knew who he was in God, he also set himself to the task at hand to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the desert, see Mark 1:1-8 for the full story.

Oh that we could “sink ourselves into the work that God has set before us.”  Francis Chan made this sobering statement what are we really succeeding at…

65 - Daily Dependence - Francis Chan - Our Greatest Fear

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Where are you at?  As you compare your lives to others, trying to “Keep Up With the Jones,” I urge you to make that careful exploration!

As Galatians 5 continues, “Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.”  You think if you were the forerunner to the Savior of the World, you would have a big head but, John the Baptist’s response that “I must become less and less” should be our modus operandi.  Jon Acuff made this profound statement,

65 - Daily Dependence - John Acuff - Comparison

Again, nothing good comes from comparison!  Finally the last portion of Galatians, “ Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”  I will go back once more to “Mr. 2nd Place” for fulfillment of this directive, in Mark 1:4, 6 (ESV) the gospel writer says this,

“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”

Now that is creative indeed!  But you don’t need to go to the desert, clothed with camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey to be creative for Christ, but what I think Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that we need o be BOLD FOR CHRIST!  Amen?

I close this Thought with this final point about the Bible’s “Mr. 2nd Place,” recognizing that Jesus Christ is the hero, the main character of the story, numero uno, will change everything. Humility is the key to everything.  In fact, Jesus Christ’s first character trait that he showed us, was humility when he was born in a manger. All through the bible it talks about how God opposes the proud and exalts the humble, and that is what happened for John.  ( I posted this blog recently, ★ Re|Engage – Humility ★ talking all about Humility if you want to read more about this.)  John the Baptist’s attitude of humility lead to the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ to say that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived, (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28)…and that was because he knew his place and accepted it!

Can the same be said of you today?

So if you find yourself that you are always coming in second place or runner-up is your lot in life, consider yourself blessed to be in the same company of the greatest man who ever lived who also was second.  Don’t Settle For First Place!

“Comparison kills contentment in our lives.” Steven Furtick

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★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★

Happy New Year!  I know this is 7 days late but I have been chewing on this for several days now.  As I have reflected upon the past year and started thinking about the new year, many things have been whirling around my mind.

This past Sunday, I heard a great message called “Rethinking Resolutions” by Jeremiah Sarvis, who preached on Lamentations 3:19-24 (HCSB) which says,

Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,

therefore I will put my hope in Him.”

You can watch the message here…rushcreek.org/sermon/rethinking-resolutions. Jeremiah said something that really got my attention that I need to:
 

“Live in the moment.  Live in the present.  Know God now.  Stop living in a past you cannot change and a future that is not here now.  Embrace Him now.”

As a result, I was challenged to rethink the idea of New Year’s Resolutions since they are typically not followed through on and are pretty much worthless.  Instead a friend suggested making commitments to God.  I read this and think this is really the point…
64 - Daily Dependence - Commitment
“There are only two options regarding commitment.
You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as life in-between.”  

Pat Riley, Former NBA player

So I am going to make Two Commitments that I will do in 2015 to develop my walk with God that will express to Him that “I am All IN.”

Commitment #1.  Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness.

I was reading a devotion from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, and read this phrase, “My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness” which just struck a chord in my spirit!  He said,
 

“Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

This is my heart’s desire that “nothing would stop me from doing exactly what God wants” so that I will grow closer to Him and operate in all the fruits of the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Jesus!  I have been evaluating how I have been spending my time from what I am watching, listening to, reading and even drinking.  I want to live 2015 in an intentional way to grow in Holiness.

Commitment #2.  Reading the Bible Every Day!
 

I have done pretty good about getting up early from Monday through Friday and spending time reading the bible, journaling and praying, but once the weekend comes I tend to slack off and not read anything.  Now I am not trying to be legalistic that you have to read the bible every day, BUT you know that part of growing or developing in any area is by practice.  So if I am going to “grow in holiness,” then I need to be feeding my mind, body and spirit with those things that will accomplish my commitment.  Proverbs‬ ‭15‬:‭14‬ (NLT) says,

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.”

Reminds me of the “Garbage in, garbage out” principle…If I am reading trash, watching trash, or drinking trash then what is going to be the result?  Even if it is only in small amounts, I know myself, I need to be very careful because just like it only takes a drop of strychnine in a glass of water to kill the body, so it only takes small doses of compromise to derail our walk with God.

64 - Daily Dependence - Crash the ChatterboxIn his book “Crash the Chatterbox,” Steven Furtick said,

“The more of God’s Word we know and the more reminding ourselves of His truths, the less dependent we become on others to snap us out of negative spirals.  We can begin to rely on God’s Spirit to renew our minds so we can get back to doing whatever God has called us to do.”
 

It is not that “I have to read the bible;” as much as it is that “I want to read the bible!”  I shared in a few months ago about the importance of Reading the Bible in the ★ Thought for the Day – All About The Big Ten ★ post that you can read if you are interested.  By reading God’s Word I know my perspective will become aligned properly and I will see things for what they really are.

64 - Daily Dependence -Steven Furtick - PERSPECTIVE

Isaiah 43:19 (NASB) says,

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

Do you believe that God is going to do something new this year?  I do!

As we move forward into the New Year, let’s embrace God today, and trust Him completely and expectantly for what will be done in us and through us!  I urge you to make your commitments today and stick with them.  Be careful what you are feeding on because I know myself, my 2015 commitment for “Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness” will not be achieved if I am not careful what I am feeding my mind, body and spirit!!

 

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